Four stick-to-it strategies when you’re feeling frustrated

When you try something new, whether it’s a weekly strategy planning session, or just getting yourself into a new routine – of exercising, cooking dinner, or even just keeping your environment organized – the really crucial (and REALLY difficult) part comes just after your initial burst of enthusiasm wears off.

Mastering a new skill and/or instilling new habit loop takes serious commitment.

Key Reasons We Give Up

• We think we lack the ability. If you’ve ever told yourself, “I suck at _____.” or “I don’t have the organizational gene,” you’re doing yourself a disservice. As Heidi Grant Halvorson, a motivational psychologist and author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently says, “Many people implicitly believe that if you have to work hard at something, it means you lack ability. This is rubbish.” What you’re really lacking is commitment.

• You try to go it alone. Enlisting outside help can make all the difference. Why reinvent a wheel that someone else has already figured out how to build? Look around to see not only who you can lean on for support but also who you can learn from.

• You’re trying to go from zero to hero in one step. Change is a process, not a snap-your-fingers and it’s done kind of thing. It comes in fits and starts – by taking baby steps. It’s normal to feel frustrated because of what’s not working — but that is actually a sign that you are making progress! You’re learning what’s not working, which, if you reflect on it & learn from it, brings you one step closer to what will work.

Four Strategies for Sticking With It

It’s important to actively cultivate persistence. Here are four ways to reinforce yours:

Get reconnected with your reason why
Make a goal board to keep yourself focused on WHY a goal matters
Take a few minutes to write down in your notebook WHY making this change is so important to you. List all of the benefits you’ll get from seeing it through. List all of the things you’ll miss out on if you don’t stick with it. If you’re visually oriented, create a mood board or a vision booklet that you can keep handy & refer back to. Here’s a great tutorial at inkybites. {image via inkybites too}

Find a Community & Mentors
When making a change, find mentors and community
Participate in a structured program with others who also want to make a similar change, such as Weight Watchers or a Boot Camp. That way you will be learning from the best and have a supportive community to lean on when you’re feeling weak or frustrated.

Break It Down
Success will never be a big step in the future: success is a small step taken just now
Choose one or two skills to focus on at a time, and break that skill down into manageable goals. For example, if you’re trying to become more organized, you might focus on making your bed each morning or by pushing yourself to hang up your coats & bags the minute you walk in the door rather than dropping everything right on the floor.

Learn to Get Excited by Frustration
Learn to get excited not defeated by frustration
When you’re feeling like something isn’t working, rather than taking that as a cue to give up/that you lack the skills necessary — take it as a cue that you’ve just learned something/gotten smarter about the process. Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve just learned and ask yourself what tweaks you can make to your change program going forward because of that. For example, if you’re establishing the new habit of planning out your week and you’re frustrated that you can’t seem to get everything on your list done – what does that tell you? Are you trying to cram too much into one day? Are you confusing to-do’s with projects? Are you frittering away time and if so, where do you have a tendency to do that during the week/day and how might you stop doing it? Scientists really get this right: failure is never the end — it’s knowledge. Apply it!

What’s got you frustrated and feeling like giving up? I’d love to hear & will offer thoughts on recalibrating!